Saturday, October 14, 2006

A red state goes code blue for GOP

In the color-coded, Crayola world of politics, Ohio is a red state.

But if one pays close attention--listening to the grumbles of unhappy voters, reading the poll numbers and catching the hang-dog expressions of Republicans--it's almost as if one can hear the drip-drip-dripping of the dye into the electoral paint can, changing the hue of the great state of Ohio ever closer to blue.

Ohio Democrats, who in recent years have shown all the organizational vigor of Chicago Republicans, have a strut instead of a limp in their step these days, less than a month before the election. And they know they wouldn't be in this position without the timely, bumbling generosity of the Republicans.

"The chickens are coming home to roost," said Rep. Ted Strickland, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate who actually lived in a chicken coop for some weeks as a child and is leading in his bid to become the state's first Democratic chief executive in 16 years.

Once again Ohio, credited with giving President Bush a second term two years ago, is the national battleground in miniature. The war in Iraq has left the veteran Senate incumbent, Mike DeWine, surprisingly vulnerable. Rep. Bob Ney pleaded guilty to felony corruption charges Friday, but has yet to leave office. And the Rep. Mark Foley congressional page sex scandal has damaged the campaign of the fourth-ranking Republican in the House, Deborah Pryce, who described Foley as a friend in a recent magazine article.

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